Sarah Kirkland Snider

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Recently deemed “one of the decade’s more gifted, up-and-coming modern classical composers” (Pitchfork) and “a potentially significant voice on the American music landscape” (David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer), composer SARAH KIRKLAND SNIDER writes music of direct expression and vivid narrative that has been hailed as “rapturous” (The New York Times), “haunting, piercing melancholy” (The Los Angeles Times), and “strikingly beautiful” (Time Out New York). With an ear for both the structural and the poetic, Snider’s music draws upon a variety of influences to render a nuanced command of immersive storytelling. Of her orchestral song cycle, Penelope, Pitchfork‘s Jayson Greene proclaimed: “Snider’s music lives in…an increasingly populous inter-genre space that, as of yet, has produced only a few clear, confident voices. Snider is perhaps the most sophisticated of them all.”

Snider’s works have been commissioned and performed by some of the most prestigious orchestras, ensembles, and soloists throughout the world, including the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and the North Carolina Symphony; the Residentie Orkest Den Haag, Britten Sinfonia, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and National Arts Centre Orchestra; violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, percussionist Colin Currie, and vocalist Shara Nova (formerly Worden); Ensemble Signal, The Knights, yMusic; Roomful of Teeth, Cantus, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus; and many others. Conductors who have championed her work include Andre dé Ridder, Giancarlo Guerrero, Rossen Milanov, Edwin Outwater, and Leonard Slatkin. Her music has been heard in concert halls around the world including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center, and at festivals such as Big Ears, BAM Next Wave, Aspen, Ecstatic, Colorado, Cross-linx, Sundance, BAM’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Bang On a Can Summer, Liquid Music, 21C Liederabend, SONiC, New York Festival of Song, and Zurich’s Apples & Olives. Penelope, her song cycle for mezzo and orchestra (or chamber ensemble), has been performed over forty times in the United States and Europe.

In 2010, Snider released her first album, Penelope, a J. Paul Getty Center-commissioned song cycle with lyrics by playwright Ellen McLaughlin, featuring vocalist Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) and Ensemble Signal, conducted by Brad Lubman, on New Amsterdam Records. Acclaimed as “ravishingly melancholy” (The New York Times), “the year’s most affecting creation” (Time Out New York), and “a gorgeous piece of music and hauntingly vivid psychological portrait” (Pitchfork), Penelope was named No. 1 Classical Album of 2010 by Time Out New York and one of NPR’s Top Five Genre-Defying Albums of 2010, and received dozens of other year-end best-of citations internationally, including eMusic, textura, WNYC, and The Huffington Post, who named “The Lotus Eaters” one of the Top Ten Alternative Art Songs of The Decade. Charting on both the CMJ 200 and the top ten of Billboard’s Crossover Classical list, Penelope also drew high praise from The Los Angeles Times, New York Magazine, The Believer, New Music Box, and many others, with Pitchfork writing: “No matter what perspective you bring to this album, it bears profound rewards.”

Snider’s music can also be found on the 2014 Grammy-Award winning eponymous album by vocal octet Roomful of Teeth; yMusic’s debut record, Beautiful Mechanical; NOW Ensemble‘s third album, Dreamfall; pianist Michael Mizrahi’s sophomore release, Currents and pianist Nicholas Phillips’s record Impressions. Forthcoming recordings of Snider’s music will include Mass for the Endangered, recorded by Trinity Wall Street Choir and NOVUS NY; Something for the Dark, recorded by the North Carolina Symphony; and The Reserved, the Reticent, a solo cello piece recorded by Caitlin Sullivan.  

In addition to her work as a composer, Snider is a passionate advocate for new music in New York and beyond. From 2001 to 2007, she co-curated the Look & Listen Festival, a new music series set in modern art galleries. Since 2007 she has served as Co-Director, along with William Brittelle and Judd Greenstein, of New Amsterdam Records, a Brooklyn-based independent record label recently called “the focal point of the post-classical scene,” (Time Out New York) and “emblematic of an emerging generation” (The New York Times), and praised for “releasing one quality disc after another” (Newsweek). In 2011, New Amsterdam created a separate, non-profit organization for its presenting work; in 2017, New Amsterdam revamped its model to function as an all-in-one non-profit record label, presenter, and artist service organization.

Born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, Snider has an M.M. and Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Musicand a B.A. from Wesleyan University. In 2006 she was a Schumann Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival. The 2013 winner of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award, Snider has also received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, Opera America, the Sorel Organization, and the Jerome Composers Commissioning Fund, as well as Yale School of Music prizes and young composer honors. She was recently named one of the “Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music” by The Washington Post, and in 2011, was spotlighted in the NPR feature “100 Composers Under 40.” Her teachers included Martin Bresnick, Marc-Andre Dalbavie, Justin Dello Joio, Aaron Jay Kernis, Ezra Laderman, David Lang, and Christopher Rouse. She lives in Princeton with her husband, Steven; son, Jasper; and daughter, Dylan.

Her music is published by G. Schirmer.


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